I am a big fan of the ladies who birthed FlourishWriters, and I have been a part of their writing community for about a year. Last spring, one of the women, Jenny Kochert, went on Facebook Live to offer suggestions on handling criticism of our work. One of the ideas I clearly remember from what she shared was taking time to ask God, “What do I need to learn from this experience, and what do I need to let go?”

Fast forward about six months to the Women Speakers Collective Bootcamp in Chicago. Danielle Strickland was leading a teaching session and the topic of dealing with criticism came up again. Danielle’s advice was much the same as Jenny’s and she encouraged all of us to make an important distinction and decide what part of the criticism we would receive and what part we would not receive. What could help us grow was the feedback we could RECEIVE. That which attacked us personally or felt like it was tearing us down was the feedback we could NOT RECEIVE.

The encouragement from these two women around this topic has helped me immensely. As a recovering perfectionist people-pleaser, criticism can be devastating to me. I tend to move quickly past anything that could be helpful and only hear that I didn’t measure up, that I offended someone, or that the best thing for me to do is to sit down and stay quiet.

But God has roared through my heart like a mighty wind the past couple of years. He has worked with me on strengthening Spiritual muscles and quickening my discernment so that I can more easily separate lies from truth. He has called me to be brave, take risks, and accept opportunities for my voice to be heard. But to do that, I had to learn to handle the negative feedback that always comes from somewhere. Could I look at it as an opportunity to learn rather than an invitation to quit because I had failed?

While I was in Chicago for the Bootcamp, I realized how different I was from many who presented there. I was the only one at the event who spoke from a manuscript, and there was a sentiment among all those who taught that using notes was a big negative. So it was a difficult thing to stick to my preferred speaking style when I knew going into it they wouldn’t support it. But I did stick with it because it is who I am, it is how I had prepared, and I was pretty sure that changing something at the last minute that had been my routine for fifteen years of preaching and speaking would not serve me well.

It’s been interesting how God has used my time in Chicago to grow me over the past four months. I have practiced Jenny and Danielle’s advice and sifted through the feedback to identify what to RECEIVE and what to NOT RECEIVE. I have been preaching more spontaneously and have done several short devotions with no notes at all. And it’s been good. But the next time I’m asked to speak somewhere, I will likely write out a manuscript and share what the Holy Spirit guided me to write at my computer in the quiet of my office. And that’s good, too.

Sometimes knowing where you don’t fit is just as important as figuring out where you do. I know who I am and what I offer. And I also know I have room to grow. But God’s love is faithful. He loves manuscript Angie and no-notes Angie. He loves fearful Angie and confident Angie. He loves serious Angie and fun Angie. That I RECEIVE — His love. But the lies of the enemy that tempt me to question my worth? That friends, I do NOT RECEIVE.

Peace.

This post is chapter 4/7 of The Ways God Speaks To Us.